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Letter to Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation  

Author:  | Oklahoma, Siting, Wildlife

We are writing this letter in response to the proposal recently presented by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) regarding wind development on the Hal and Fern Cooper Wildlife Management Area (WMA). We … have serious concerns regarding the likely outcomes a decision to allow wind power development on WMAs will have. We have outlined these below for your consideration.

First, a decision to allow wind development on WMAs would set a precedent not only for other Oklahoma public lands, but also for public lands in adjacent states. This could cascade into large-scale habitat fragmentation which would directly conflict with the stated goals of management of these lands. Additionally, private landowners in the immediate area would essentially see any wind development on public land as an indication that wind power is compatible with ecological integrity and function. The scientific and conservation communities have ample data that indicates it is not. … Furthermore, endorsing wind development on a WMA would directly contradict the professional recommendations of wildlife biologists, including ODWC staff, which will compromise the credibility of wildlife professionals at multiple levels. …

[T]he Lesser Prairie-chicken, a game species in serious decline, is known to have recently occupied the Cooper WMA and adjacent lands. The USFWS is currently considering if the Lesser Prairie-chicken’s candidate status warrants elevation. This is due primarily to the effects of habitat fragmentation from rapidly increasing oil, natural gas, and wind power development within the range of the species. Prairie grouse in general exhibit strong avoidance of vertical structures, habitat fragmentation, and human disturbance. As Cooper WMA is one of the few publicly-managed parcels within occupied range, wind power development would be detrimental to the Lesser Prairie-chicken’s current status and future recovery. … In addition to concerns regarding the Lesser Prairie-chicken, this area also falls within essential flight zones for the endangered Whooping Crane and Mexican free-tailed bat maternity caves.

We realize that, on the surface, wind power appears attractive as a source of renewable, non-polluting energy – something all of us in the conservation community support. However, we must stand by the data, which raise serious concerns regarding wind energy production potential, limited carbon offset, minimal local economic benefit, and permanent fragmentation of habitat. Thus, the ecological footprint is large relative to the meager environmental benefits. [emphasis added – NWW] We can provide data from around the world to support that wind turbines and the associated infrastructures have deleterious effects on wildlife species. In fact, The Wildlife Society (the professional organization of wildlife biologists) recently released an official statement entitled “Impacts of Wind Energy Facilities on Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat” that clearly states the negative consequences of wind power with recommendations regarding placement. …

Dr. R. Dwayne Elmore, Treasurer
Oklahoma Chapter, The Wildlife Society

Dr. Craig A. Davis, President
Oklahoma Chapter, The Wildlife Society

Dr. Rick Baydack, President
North American Grouse Partnership

Dr. Steve K. Sherrod, Executive Director
Sutton Avian Research Center

Donald H. Wolfe, Senior Biologist
Sutton Avian Research Center

Dr. Timothy J. O’Connell, President
Oklahoma Ornithological Society

Download original document: “Letter to Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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